Federal Appeals Court Rules For Jamaican Gay Man and NWIRP Client, Finds “Pattern or Practice” of Persecution Against Gay Jamaican Men

For Immediate Release
Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Contact: Jorge L. Barón, Executive Director, NWIRP, 206.957.8609


SEATTLE, WA- The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled yesterday that “there exists in Jamaica a pattern or practice of persecution of gay men” and that a gay Jamaican man may be entitled to protection from deportation as a result. The court’s ruling was issued in the case of Damion Bromfield, a Jamaican man who has been detained for 43 months at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma while he fights deportation.

“This ruling sets an important precedent for individuals who fear they will be persecuted because of their sexual identity in their home countries,” said Matt Adams, the legal director of Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (“NWIRP”), which represented Bromfield before the Ninth Circuit. “We are relieved that the Ninth Circuit recognized the dangers faced by individuals like Mr. Bromfield if they are deported.”

Bromfield has resided in the United States since the age of fifteen. He was placed in removal (deportation) proceedings in February 2005 but asked the immigration court to grant him a form of protection from deportation, withholding of removal, because he would be persecuted on the basis of his sexual orientation. The Immigration Court denied his claim for protection and his administrative appeal was denied. With the assistance of NWIRP, Bromfield then filed an appeal with the federal appeals court.

In its ruling, the Ninth Circuit pointed out that the violence perpetrated against gay men in Jamaica included “mob attacks, stabbings, and targeted shootings.” It also found that individuals engaging in private, consensual homosexual conduct are subject to criminal prosecution by the Jamaican government. The court concluded that Bromfield had established a “pattern or practice” of gay men in Jamaica and sent the case back to the immigration authorities for a ruling that takes into account that situation.

The ruling in Bromfield’s case marks the fifth time this year that the federal appeals court has issued a published decision in a case brought by the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project. In four of the five cases, the court has ruled in favor of NWIRP’s client. “Published decisions from the Ninth Circuit set precedents that will affect cases in a region that stretches from Arizona to Alaska,” said Jorge L. Barón, executive director of NWIRP. “We are pleased of the success we have had before the Ninth Circuit this year because these decisions will help not only our individual clients but thousands of others throughout the country.”

Northwest Immigrant Rights Project is the only provider of comprehensive immigration legal services to low-income individuals in Washington State. NWIRP serves thousands of individuals each year from offices in Seattle, Granger, Moses Lake and Tacoma.